IWC’s Big Pilot’s replica watch uk became an instant classic when it was re-released in 2002, but its history stretches much further back in time. In this feature from the WatchTime archives, we explore the Swiss-made copy IWC Big Pilot and its many evolutions over the decades.
The history of IWC’s popular Big Pilot’s Watch stretches further back in time than the histories of most wristwatches. IWC first made the watch for the German Air Force in 1940. Observation watches inspired the styling of this 55-mm-diameter timepiece, which encased pocketwatch Caliber 52.T.S.C. This timepiece has left its mark on the design of high quality copy IWC Pilots’ watches today – together with comparable models from German manufacturers like A. Lange & Söhne, Wempe, Laco, and Stowa.
Distinguishing characteristics were the military triangle flanked by two dots at 12 o’clock, a sans serif typeface for the numerals (which include a 1 that looks like an unadorned vertical bar), and rhombic hands. Each of these features can still be found today on almost all current IWC pilots’ watches. Even the Mark XVIII preserves the family’s design, although its prototype, the Mark 11 pilots’ watch created for the Royal Air Force in 1949, used other marks and hands.
But the successor of the original model wasn’t unveiled until 2002, when IWC re-released the Big Pilot’s Watch with a 46-mm-diameter steel case and in-house seven-day Caliber 5011. With its large, eye-catching size and sleekly simple design, this watch soon distinguished itself as a masculine statement on the wrist. In addition to the characteristic dial, the conical crown is another unmistakable feature, and a user-friendly one, too, because the crown’s shape makes it easy to use when wearing gloves.
The diameter of the case of the classical brown calfskin strap copy IWC Big Pilot’s Watch has remained unchanged (46 mm) from 2002 to the present day, although current versions encase the improved Caliber 51111. Like the Mark models, the Big Pilot’s Watch belongs to the Classic Collection, whose watches have casebacks engraved with an image of the classic Junkers Ju 52 aircraft.
The watch has a strap crafted by the artisanal Italian shoe and leather goods manufacturer Santoni. Over time, IWC has built the Big Pilot’s watch family into a small collection. Here, IWC replica pursues several different paths: the new models are more historical, more modern, more complicated or more elegant than the classic.